Try to eat these foods (foods our ancestors ate raw)

Meats: Look for three criteria—range fed/grass fed only, local, and organic. Meats include beef, chicken, pork, lamb, venison, turkey, fish, eggs, game birds, frog legs, and crab legs. I think you get the point. Flesh.  Make this your priority at every meal.


Fruits and berries: Look for local and organic first. These include strawberries, blueberries, apples, oranges, tomatoes, kiwi, and olives. Basically anything that is edible raw.


Vegetables: Look for local and organic first. These include (not potatoes or starchy tubers) broccoli, green peppers, cucumbers, asparagus, celery, carrots, and mushrooms (fungi I know). Also, eat any edible raw green plants.


Nuts/seeds: Look for local and organic first and they should be raw. These include almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pecans, Brazilian nuts, macadamia, chestnuts, and sesame. These do not include peanuts, which area beans.


Don't eat these foods

Grains: For the most part, grains are man’s first processed food. This includes wheat, corn, wild rice, oats, millet, rye, barley, and anything made from them. I can’t say enough bad things about them. They have anti-nutrients, gluten, and lectin and can spike your insulin. I don’t care how much you paid for what they call 'healthy' and 'whole grains.' They are bad.

Sweeteners and artificial sweeteners: These include sugar, Stevia, fructose, corn syrup, sucralose, aspartame, lactose, honey, and molasses. Yes, we had honey when we evolved in the Paleolithic era but not enough or often enough to allow us to adapt to the sudden rush of sugar spiking our insulin levels.

Dairy (not including eggs if you classify them as dairy): These include milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter. If you're considering whey only protein shakes, you're probably OK, as most are cross-filtered enough to remove immune damaging properties.

Potatoes/tubers: These have tons of carbs causing a huge insulin spike and include sweet potatoes, yams, Russet potatoes, beets, turnips, and cassava.

Legumes: These include beans, peas, peanuts, soy, green beans, lima, coffee, and cocoa. You will see them marketed as a 'free food.' From an insulin response, this is correct. From an optimal health point, it isn't due to the naturally occurring chemicals in them. Most contain anti-nutrients and their own pesticides in the form of alkaloids or lectin.

Activity level

Try to move. Casual cardio keeps your heart rate at about 65–75 percent. I think a heart rate monitor with the chest strap is the best way to go. If a monitor isn’t in the budget, you can always take your pulse with two fingers placed on your carotid artery on your neck. Count the beats for 10 seconds and multiply that by six for beats per minute (BPM). The traditional cookie cutter approach to figuring out your max heart rate is 220 - your age = 100 percent. Then multiply that by 0.75 for 75 percent. Again, this isn't an exact science, but it's a place to start. Proceed with caution if you're really out of shape. If you don’t feel like doing the math, just do something to get your heart rate up and get you sweating for 30 minutes.

How often? As sedentary as most people are, I really think you should do something a couple times a day. Nothing crazy. Just 30 minutes. Think about how often you're sitting or sleeping. A couple of cardio sessions a day isn't out of the question. Once you get in a little better shape, I suggest turning it up a couple times a week. Perform short interval sessions where you just hit as hard as you can for one minute. (You’ll have to work into this slowly if you're really out of shape.) Do that 3–4 times in a session and then walk it off. Your heart will really appreciate this. You may have heard the term “fight or flight.” Embrace the flight aspect of this evolutionary trait.

Lift weights: I think lifting weights is great. I could really write a whole book on this, but for this article, I’ll keep it simple. I have a different philosophy than most who promote this evolutionary philosophy on nutrition and health. Due to the fact that I have been lifting weights for over 20 years, competitively and for general health, I think to achieve a muscular physique you need to train with weights. Most of us office jockey’s would have no physical exertion otherwise.

I like to break my workouts up as follows:

If you did a casual walk in the morning and lifted some weights in the evening, that's perfect. Don’t put a lot of stress on yourself if you miss a workout. Just pick up where you left off. Keep them short and sweet.

A fat loss workout day in a perfect world: In respect to fat loss, I follow a common bodybuilding approach for weight loss as far as the workouts and meal timing are concerned. Let’s face it—bodybuilders are the masters when it comes to fat loss. They don't necessarily have optimal health and they rely mostly on insulin response, not nutritional value, but they have the workouts and meal timing dialed in for sure.

I would do cardio in the morning on an empty stomach. Drink a bunch of water. Take a green tea pill, caffeine pill, and branched chain amino acid (BCAA) pill or powder. The BCAAs will get to the muscle quickly and keep you from going catabolic on your muscles while not giving your blood any sugar. Your body will have to utilize the fat stores because you have very little, if any, glucose available. Again, this is very common from an evolutionary aspect. Wake up and go hunt or gather food. This probably involved running and climbing because the kitchen or fast food wasn't invented for another 10,000 years.

Lift weights later in the day about 30 minutes after a meal. Strong muscles raise your resting metabolism so it’s best to make sure they have some fuel to get bigger and stronger during and after the workout. Avoid lifting weights on an empty stomach.

Perform cardio again at some point later in the day, ideally after your last meal. Again, this could just be a 30-minute easy walk.

L-carnitine and CLA are other supplements that I like, as they are missing from feed mill meats and are often found in organ meats, which most people don’t eat anymore but were first pick for your ancestors.


The sample diet

This is an example of a place to start. Diligent tracking of your daily weigh-ins and logging your food and exercise will help you dial it in over a period of time. Make adjustments if you stall.

Name: Susie

Body weight: 187 lbs

Height: 5’8”

Age: 36

Gender: Female

Find Susie’s BMR using one of the online calculators (it's 1619). Add in activity level using the Harris Benedict formula. Because Susie is trying to do cardio in the morning with some weight training, I’m going to put her at moderate to light activity. The rest of the day she sits at a desk and then behind the wheel of her car for a 35-minute commute each way to work. She then watches television and goes to bed. We’ll start with 1619 X 1.55 = 2509 calories a day to maintain her current body weight. Then we’ll subtract 1000 for a 2-lb a week loss. For round numbers, that’s 1600 calories a day. Susie didn’t have a resource for a skin-fold test, so she snuck into a store that had the body fat percentage monitor scales and took a quick reading. She is at 28 percent body fat. So what do we know if we're shooting for five meals a day? Carbs are going to be 7–10 ECC per meal at 50 grams/day. Her protein needs for five meals a day is going to be around 27 grams per mean (187 lbs of body weight - 28% body fat = 134 lbs of lean mass which = 134 grams). Then spread that across five meals and you get about 27 grams per meal (134 grams x 4 calories per gram of protein = 536 calories; 50 grams x 4 calories per gram of carbohydrate = 200 calories  =736 calories from protein and ECC with the calorie difference to be made up from healthy fat 1600 - 736 = 864 ÷ 9 = 96 grams of fat).

Getting that much fat in this diet will be hard. Don’t worry about hitting that exactly. This is just a place to start. I’m more concerned with keeping your ECC low with low glycemic index carbs and calories high enough to keep your body from going into starvation mode.


The wrap up

If you're just looking for optimal health, exercise regularly and enjoy the “eat these foods” without much effort on counting and data entry. You will lose the fat over time, especially if you traditionally indulged in a heavy grain and potato based diet. If you're focusing on fat loss, follow some of the stricter guidelines above. Count calories and use the glycemic index and ECC. Keep the lean protein high. There are lots of books available on the subject of evolutionary nutrition and exercise written by men and women who have spent a lifetime researching human origins. I suggest you read the Paleo Diet by Dr. Cordain and Protein Power Life Plan by Dr. Eades. Fathead is a great movie that questions the norm. Watch it if you can.

Common questions

Q: What about a cheat day?

A: If you're really trying to lose weight, I suggest a cheat meal. Pick one meal a week that you focus the week's craving on. I would keep to easy digestible carbs on this day, something that dissolves completely like candy. When you're diligent about your weigh-in log, you will find out quickly that if you fill your gut full of bread or potatoes, your body will hold on to a bunch of water for 3–4 days just trying to push that stuff through. Now that doesn’t mean you won’t lose fat during that time, but it may be discouraging seeing the drastic rise in weight for those few days.

Q: Why is it so easy to gain 5 lbs back?

A: I call it the 5-lb creep. There is another primal mechanism. Your body is trying to maintain what it thinks is normal. In the biology world, it’s called homeostasis. So if you're fighting like hell to drop weight, your body is trying to maintain status quo. Odds are that’s about 5 lbs higher than you're fighting down to. You have to really fight to maintain a body weight for a given time until your body recognizes that as normal again. What is that magic time? Is it a week? Three months? That depends on the individual and how long they've been out of shape.

Q: Can I eat like I used to after I achieve my goal?

A: Yep, but you will go back to the way you looked and felt too. Life is about choices. If you want to be healthy, you have to eat healthy. Please don’t let that discourage you. You will feel so good after adopting this lifestyle that you'll never want to stop.

Q: I’m 5’6" and 110 lbs. My arms still jiggle. What am I doing wrong? Why am I still fat? A: Fat versus flabby. OK. You aren't fat. You are flabby. You should know the difference between being fat and flabby. Take a look at your protein intake. Make sure you're getting enough. Incorporate some weight training to firm up.

Q: Lifting weights makes my jeans tight.

A: This is a common complaint I hear from women. The fact is that most aren't used to something pushing back. Muscle isn't like fat in the respect that it pushes back when you push on it. Fat is more like pudding and just gets put in its place. I caution you that adding muscle will feel like your legs are getting bigger. Don’t get discouraged and keep in mind that strong muscle is hungry muscle and will help eat the fat.

Q: Wow, do I really need to do all that math to lose weight and be healthy?

A: No, if you just want to keep it simple, eat lean sources of protein with about a cup of a low GI carb every 2–3 hours. Don’t stuff yourself. Just eat until you're content. Make the protein your priority (i.e. 4–5 scrambled eggs with a cup of strawberries for breakfast, chicken breast with a cup of broccoli for lunch). Drink lots of water and take a good multivitamin.

Disclaimer: Always consult a physician before considering any diet or exercise programs.